Fat Albert – 02/25/2018

Fat Albert 02/25/2018 Photo Album

Although the fat Albert is a decent fish attractor in its own right, it earns significant time on my line purely due to its visibility, buoyancy and durability. I particularly love the fat Albert as my lead surface fly, when I deploy a three fly dry/dropper arrangement. It is unsurpassed as a highly visible indicator fly that floats above the surface even with two size 14 beadhead nymphs dangling below. The yellow color combined with a white wing and its large size make the fat Albert easy to follow in riffles and difficult light situations. Often it is simply an indicator with a hook point, as I search the stream with a productive nymph combination.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EEehSuFMDJs/Wo-W3ofmmjI/AAAAAAABYb4/x4j4JqO4M1UG4O1LRLfsHsLNOLy3HLP1QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2220017.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6525600232647663457?locked=true#6525600267590081074″ caption=”Dangling Legs” type=”image” alt=”P2220017.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

There are incidents, however, where the fat Albert attracts the attention of opportunistic fish. One such memorable situation occurred, while I fished in Penns Creek on 6/1/2016. In this instance a brown trout crushed a yellow fat Albert likely mistaking it for a golden stonefly. I frequently deploy the yellow fat Albert during high run off conditions, as I edge fish, and I recall numerous instances where a large bank dweller ignored the dangling nymphs and pounced on the juicy foam attractor. Of course during hopper season in August and September, the fat Albert performs as a serviceable grasshopper imitation as well.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Pjdn8LmVTwQ/Wo-W4AvYyBI/AAAAAAABYb4/tHdFfJF4Zws6c0StdH32U1RjWE30k5lVACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2220018.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6525600232647663457?locked=true#6525600274098735122″ caption=”Eight New Fat Alberts” type=”image” alt=”P2220018.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

My 3/27/2016 post documents my introduction to the fat Albert, and a 12/18/2016 post chronicles the fat Albert’s effectiveness during 2016, its first full season of use. I counted twelve yellow fat Albert’s in my fly boxes, so I busied myself with the task of tying an additional eight to bring my 2018 starting total to twenty. Yellow has been my most productive color, although I must admit that I have not experimented extensively with the green and orange body versions, that I tied among the initial batch. I plan to visit Pennsylvania this year for my college reunion, and you can be certain that I will pack an adequate supply to test on wily central Pennsylvania brown trout in case large golden stoneflies are present. Twenty should be sufficient to lead my nymphs through pockets, runs and riffles during the 2018 fly fishing season.

 

 

Chernobyl Ant – 02/25/2018

Chernobyl Ant 02/25/2018 Photo Album

My post of 02/12/2017 sums up the status of the Chernobyl ant in my fly boxes. It remains an important weapon, but it ceded some of its importance to the fat Albert and Jake’s gulp beetle. In addition I enjoyed moderate success with a slightly smaller and lighter hippy stomper in the late fall of 2017, so this rising fish deceiver may displace even more line time from the Chernobyl ant.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-eSztEJVrd6Y/Wo-VyUmEkCI/AAAAAAABYbo/EactoG194eELLqtunbNRJf95Z0VSK4wgwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2190002.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6525599058648446129?locked=true#6525599076837527586″ caption=”Nice Segmentation” type=”image” alt=”P2190002.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

My introduction to the Chernobyl ant extends back to my first trips to the Green River in Utah, and if interested, you can read about my early contact with the large foam ant in my post of 02/01/2011. In the initial days of tying the Chernobyl ant I experienced frustration with the single layer of foam spinning around the hook shank. This generally occurred after landing two or three fish. My 02/13/2014 post describes a significant modification to my tying methodology that eliminated the spinning shortcoming.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-vJVkS8ef-q8/Wo-Vy2ILpvI/AAAAAAABYbo/G6-d1m99n4QEpvvDyJOiJSyimeKGL7rDACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2190003.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6525599058648446129?locked=true#6525599085838968562″ caption=”Three Brand New Chernobyls” type=”image” alt=”P2190003.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

As the fat Albert and Jake’s gulp beetle pilfered line time from the Chernobyl ant, my need to restock my supply shrank as well. I counted an adequate supply of size eights, but I determined that additional size tens were required. It is difficult to totally abandon a fly that factored so prominently in past success. I backed off on the hares ear nymph several years ago, but it returned to the number one productive fly in my box, just as I sensed its effectiveness was fading. It is far too early to write off the Chernobyl ant, since it owns a solid history of success.

Parachute Black Ant – 02/22/2018

Parachute Black Ant 02/22/2018 Photo Album

Historically I resort to an ant pattern when a gust of wind initiates a flurry of surface rises, or a feeding fish rejects several of my fly offerings but continues to feed. In the latter case it is very gratifying to dupe a reluctant feeder with a small black ant riding low in the film. Both of these scenarios are described nicely in my 02/03/2016 parachute ant post, and this was the last time I tied a batch of ants.

During the past summer I experienced several days on South Boulder Creek, when a parachute black ant became a very effective searching dry fly. The most prominent example is 10/17/2017. In this instance the trouts’ posture toward beetles was very tentative; however, they sipped my black ant with utter confidence. On a visit to South Boulder Creek on 09/21/2018 the black ant provided a preview of its later season effectiveness, as it yielded the first four trout of the day.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-2fCf_hLQ7iU/WooT2iPqSyI/AAAAAAABYSg/ytUFBY0OZXIgy9PmmzUAjtUWxkkAtMCxACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2180252.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6511481371805741313?locked=true#6524048837825940258″ caption=”Nice Narrow Waist” type=”image” alt=”P2180252.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Naturally the increased deployment of parachute ants resulted in a higher rate of depletion due to break offs, snags, and unraveling flies. My elevated level of confidence in the ant pattern suggested, that I would opt to knot it on my line with increased frequency, so I counted my holdings. I learned that my various storage boxes contained sixteen parachute black ants that complied with my exacting standards, so I decided to augment the supply by fourteen to thirty. I searched for and found my 01/11/2012 post, where I created a materials table and documented the excellent tying steps demonstrated by Tom Baltz at the Fly Fishing Show. I modified these instructions for one change. I now tie off the hackle and whip finish against the wing post rather than around the hook shank. This method traps far fewer hackle fibers. I also suggest using a finer thread such as 8/0 to avoid excessive build up in the waist area.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ElTmlep04LM/WooT4KvejTI/AAAAAAABYSg/vu9Z0-yRl9kEa1Q1rl1ev2dxp1F142Q1gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2180255.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6511481371805741313?locked=true#6524048865876675890″ caption=”Eleven Refurbished Ants” type=”image” alt=”P2180255.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I searched through all my damaged fly containers and uncovered eleven that were unraveling or poorly tied. Over the years I came to believe that a narrow waist between two well defined bumps is a triggering characteristic when casting an ant. I stripped quite a few ants from the hook that did meet my higher standards. The fourteen flies that I tied originated from unraveling flies, or flies that I deemed unacceptable for my exacting ant specifications.

 

 

New Zealand Day 21 – 02/07/2018

New Zealand Day 21 02/07/2018 Photo Album

We drove from Twizel to Christchurch on February 7, and upon our arrival we checked into a hotel across from the airport, returned the IMAX, and repacked our bags in preparation for a 9:40AM departure on Thursday morning. None of us looked forward to a day of travel back to the States, but Jane feared it the most, as she acquired a cough and sore throat during our last few days.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-JhBoi7zbtNM/WojEM-42DmI/AAAAAAABYJ8/tlFHrAO_uIIEZPSyU0sg4PoViX0uYpG7QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2060229.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523679782399807169?locked=true#6523679787565059682″ caption=”Lake Tekapo on Our Way to Christchurch” type=”image” alt=”P2060229.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Most of the road trip from Twizel was characterized by rolling farmland and pastures. We stopped at a rest area in Rakaia, and a statue of a huge leaping salmon caused me to initiate some online research. I learned that the Rakaia River is New Zealand’s premier salmon fishery with runs occurring in the January through April time frame, but salmon fishing was not in our itinerary.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-O6stiQ9U1Uk/WojENcPqaRI/AAAAAAABYJ8/Pnme0nii2g8JQitZBuhyCy25jRi1yqNbACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2060230.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523679782399807169?locked=true#6523679795445393682″ caption=”Rakaia Is the Salmon Capital of the South Island” type=”image” alt=”P2060230.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

We arrived at the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch by 3PM and quickly checked into our rooms. The hotel provided a shuttle service, so we decided to return the rental car as soon as possible to remove one chore from our morning list. John remembered that we needed to top off the gas, and that resulted in a fairly time consuming nuisance adventure. We used the phone app to navigate, and it led us astray twice, before we found the Allied Petrol Station. All the pumps were occupied by commercial vehicles with large gas tanks. We patiently waited for a pump to free up, but when we punched in the credit card information, it requested a PIN. We shrugged our shoulders in disbelief and embarked on another circuitous route to a BP station. This unwelcome tour of the airport surroundings involved circling endless roundabouts. Fortunately we eventually hit pay dirt and topped off at the BP.

With this task in the rear view mirror, we continued back to the airport car return, and shed the IMAX. The Hyandai minivan provided workmanlike transportation, but no tears were shed, as we said goodbye to the cumbersome boxy road warrior. At first we were perplexed by the walking path back to the Sudima, but after a false start we figured it out and crossed a busy roundabout and returned to the hotel.

Both parties completed additional packing, and then we rendezvoused at the lobby and strolled to the nearby bus stop. Twenty minutes elapsed before we boarded the number 29, and the Metro bus efficiently transported us to the Christchurch bus exchange. High Street was highlighted on the map as an area containing shops and restaurants, and its proximity motivated us to pay it a visit. We stumbled across a cool outdoor bar/food spot called the Smash Palace. A bus was situated away from the street, and it was converted into an outdoor bar. We approached the Kiwi bartender, and each ordered Bodgie brews, since they were on a happy hour special.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-v2RMCtfDR5A/WojEObacw1I/AAAAAAABYJ8/-0TwKOtmgK4HH2DMiU1GCZA1SunvQ7tFwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2060232.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523679782399807169?locked=true#6523679812402070354″ caption=”Brews at the Smash Palace” type=”image” alt=”P2060232.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After finishing our brews we explored more of Christchurch and found O.G.B, a trendy restaurant in an Old Government Building near Cathedral Square. Upon the completion of our dinners a brief walk of two blocks delivered us to an ice cream shop, where Brenda and John indulged in a cup of frozen dessert. Throughout our wanderings in Christchurch we were amazed by the ongoing construction, as the city continues to recover from the major earthquake in 2011. The devastation must have been massive, in order for the effects to endure for seven years.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SXNmlgWTgfE/WojEPSziUvI/AAAAAAABYJ8/WOBwpsNO23oS8Jyvl_OlwOqH_aMsd2KpQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2070234.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523679782399807169?locked=true#6523679827271242482″ caption=”Christchurch Cathedral Displaying Damage from the 2011 Earthquake” type=”image” alt=”P2070234.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

We wandered back to the bus exchange and returned to the Sudima. I set the alarm for 6:30 in order to catch our 9:40AM flight from Christchurch to Auckland. We were about to return home, and memories of three weeks of travel adventure and spectacular scenery dominated our thoughts.

 

 

New Zealand Day 20 – 02/06/2018

New Zealand Day 20 02/06/2018 Photo Album

With our base camp established in Twizel we prepared to explore the Mt. Cook area. Mt. Cook is the tallest mountain in all of New Zealand at 12,218 feet. However, we were low on breakfast treats, so Jane and I hiked to the Town Center Cafe & Bakery. Here we spotted breakfast pastries on top of the counter, and we used some of our remaining NZ $’s to purchase two sultana scones, two blueberry muffins, and one apple crumble. Jane and I split the crumble, when we returned to our room.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-lP-p3NMYCnE/Woi4dk8mngI/AAAAAAABYIo/opavBoRVHf4IJshO-WVoPzrGDVYPtboYACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2050204.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523666866653390865?locked=true#6523666878519746050″ caption=”Spectacular Setting Prompted Two Photos” type=”image” alt=”P2050204.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The Prices rolled by and picked us up at 10AM, and we continued on to a campground near Mt. Cook Village. The parking lot was jammed, and we nearly found ourselves locked in a big city traffic snarl, when a huge tourist bus attempted to turn around on a narrow dirt road loaded with pedestrians and parked cars. John somehow managed to execute a U-turn in advance of the bus, and we parked on the shoulder along the entry road. A longer walk was a preferred trade off to sitting in the van among the parking lot chaos.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-3GPyk7aozLQ/Woi4fzy757I/AAAAAAABYIo/-BEb_QcTzUQpxC58xgKAyDFM8z-c3naAQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2050209.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523666866653390865?locked=true#6523666916865468338″ caption=”Breathtaking View to the East” type=”image” alt=”P2050209.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-87OS2EfUjn0/Woi4fnpqTYI/AAAAAAABYIo/shGZzORARL8mX6yDelWD0YsK6hDzfB6mQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2050208.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523666866653390865?locked=true#6523666913605340546″ caption=”First Swinging Bridge Over the Hooker River” type=”image” alt=”P2050208.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The tramp was a three hour round trip undertaking, and it ended at a glacial lake, where we enjoyed spectacular views of Mt. Cook and surrounding peaks. The glacial lake next to our viewing point was filled with dense silt-laden glacial melt. The guidebook suggested that floating icebergs would be visible, but we only noticed one small one near the outlet of the lake. The river that carried gray sludge through the adjacent valley was more impressive to me, and we crossed it three times on suspended bridges supported by sturdy metal cables. Jane formulated an exit strategy each time we crossed one of the suspended structures, in case it collapsed during our time hanging above the river.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/–NwzfP7utcI/Woi4jK6FmmI/AAAAAAABYIo/X4O7-ayJ-mApTO41dUuASBXpAlPOSXPdACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2050218.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523666866653390865?locked=true#6523666974609087074″ caption=”Deep Slabs of Ice and Snow Near the Peak” type=”image” alt=”P2050218.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Numerous waterfalls cascaded down the steep slopes on both sides of the river, and several significant ribbons of rushing water disappeared in a rubble of gray boulders and gravel. It was obvious that this was the source of the dense gray sedimentation that converted the water into gray sludge.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zbPcImVLAEc/Woi4lxrm_HI/AAAAAAABYIo/qw8VIeS4D1cRBibYuwIr2eKUVrg0jWOEgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2050224.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523666866653390865?locked=true#6523667019377081458″ caption=”Tasman Lake and Tasman Glacier” type=”image” alt=”P2050224.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After we returned to the minivan, we detoured to another trailhead to view the Tasman Glacier. The sign informed us that the viewpoint occurred after a fifteen minute walk, but it neglected to tell us that the trail was a continuous climb up steps. The view at the top was interesting, as another glacial lake appeared just below a massive block of gray and charcoal ice. The return hike was tricky, but not physically taxing.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-WKAVX92oajA/Woi4niQnnGI/AAAAAAABYIo/U3_TXf6j6JUZVllF7vxJtMF1a8cFdbyKACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2050228.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523666866653390865?locked=true#6523667049597082722″ caption=”Lots of Snow Up There” type=”image” alt=”P2050228.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Upon our return to the IMAX we sped back to Twizel, and the Prices deposited us at the Lakes Hotel. After a brief happy hour with snacks, Jane and I sauntered across the highway to the convenient wood oven pizza truck. On Tuesday night we ordered a meat pizza to demonstrate that we were not in a deep food rut, and after ten minutes it was baked and ready for our consumption. It disappeared in the same amount of time that it required to bake.

Wednesday is a travel day to Christchurch, and Thursday we make our return to the USA. This was a bittersweet thought, as we neared the final day of our long anticipated New Zealand trip.

New Zealand Day 19 – 02/05/2018

New Zealand Day 19 02/05/2018 Photo Album

My earliest recollection of following professional sports was the 1959 World Series featuring the Los Angeles Dodgers vs the Chicago White Sox. I was eight years old at the time. More vivid memories play out in my mind, when I recall the !960 World Series in which Bill Mazeroski blasted his game winning home run in the ninth inning to defeat the New York Yankees. Since I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, I also have rich recollections of the 1960 NFL championship game at Franklin Field, when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Green Bay Packers. At the impressionable age of nine I worshiped the Philadelphia heroes of that team including Norm Van Brocklin, Tommy McDonald, Pete Retzlaff, and Chuck Bednarik. This glimmer of success encouraged me to become a lifelong Eagles fan, and although they fielded some impressive teams under Buddy Ryan, Dick Vermeil, and Andy Reid; they never managed to win a Super Bowl. I anxiously followed the 2017 Eagles, as they built a huge lead in the NFC, but my heart sank when Carson Wentz left the game against the Los Angeles Rams with a torn ACL. I was hopeful, but I realistically expected another disappointment in the playoffs.

Monday, February 5 was scheduled to be another relatively long travel day, as our foursome drove north and west from Dunedin to Twizel, a town close to the center of the South Island of New Zealand. I hoped for an earlier departure, but we managed to climb in the IMAX and leave the Euro 315 by 10AM. Since Super Bowl 52 began at 4:30PM Mountain time on Sunday February 4, I did some quick calculations and determined that the game began at 12:30PM on Monday, February 5 in local time. Actually I made this determination prior to our departure for New Zealand, since I clung to the small hope that the Eagles could advance to the big game. I was not certain that I could find a television in New Zealand tuned to the NFL Super Bowl, and with a planned stop along the way, it was now obvious that we would not reach Twizel by 12:30.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QlZWGu1U3aw/Wohol18cG0I/AAAAAAABYEs/DMofVi2XkXs4NkfZjtjFMElizDneOMTOwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2040192.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523579040527259921?locked=true#6523579059591191362″ caption=”Rainy Day at Moeraki” type=”image” alt=”P2040192.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Initially our route skirted the coast, and it was here that we stopped and completed a twenty minute round trip beach walk to inspect the Moeraki Boulders. We discovered a series of spherical rocks that were formed on the ocean floor a long time ago. For some reason the east coast of New Zealand contains around twenty-five of these globes, and many display fissures and cracks. We touched and leaned on several and snapped some photos, and then we settled back in the IMAX and continued on a northeastern path, until we veered to the northwest just before the town of Oamaru.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qKvqsqjJ5mM/Wohopkpl5OI/AAAAAAABYEs/sDt07u7LzXYdSpSjBB_-caSj-LfO8YCqACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2040200.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523579040527259921?locked=true#6523579123668215010″ caption=”A Collection of Round Stones” type=”image” alt=”P2040200.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

For the next several hours we followed the Waitaki River, until we turned right on route 8, and then found the Lakes Hotel in Twizel. As explained in the first paragraph, I possessed a strong interest in the Super Bowl, and I frantically attempted to follow the game via my ESPN app and gametracker. This ploy actually worked fairly well for a time, as the Eagles built a 15-3 lead in the first quarter and early going of the second. Unfortunately we then passed through several sections of rural country that generated the dreaded no service message on my mobile phone, but the Eagles amazingly survived my absence.

Once we arrived in Twizel, we stopped at the Lakes Hotel, but a sign announced that the receptionist would not return until 2PM, the prescribed check in time. Not wasting any time we found the Twizel town center, and a woman at the information center directed us to the Top Hut Sports bar. John or Brenda prefaced our question about the Super Bowl by asking if she was familiar with the American game. She was clearly a bit offended, as she replied, ” we do read and watch television here in New Zealand.”

Sure enough when we entered the Top Hut Sports Bar, we were surprised to see five screens carrying the big NFL contest. I intently watched the remainder of the second quarter, and then Jane and I took advantage of the Super Bowl special and ordered two “American hot dogs” for NZ $6 each plus two craft beers.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1P3XC-CGRpQ/WoitxBJnuEI/AAAAAAABYFg/axozbYwO-TQd2JAfiOeqnJJpP1rASXSmACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2170250.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523579040527259921?locked=true#6523655117880145986″ caption=”Super Bowl 52 Champions” type=”image” alt=”P2170250.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The Super Bowl developed into one of the best ever, and my beloved Eagles survived the Patriots’ second half surge to become the new NFL champions. I was quite surprised by the number of customers in the Top Hut on a Monday afternoon watching American football, but we later learned it was a holiday in New Zealand called Waitangi Day. After the post game trophy presentation and interviews, when I admittedly choked up while listening to the Nick Foles interview, we returned to the Lakes Hotel, where we discovered that a credit card snafu left the Prices without a room. The receptionist called the nearby Mackenzie Country Inn and secured a room there for our traveling companions.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-oKtSwHi9Udg/WohoqB6CxWI/AAAAAAABYEs/1q3TUd_XAWU4sH8O89SvT4fjF7hUmQ8LQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2040201.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523579040527259921?locked=true#6523579131521844578″ caption=”Wood Fired Pizza Dinner Across from the Lakes Hotel” type=”image” alt=”P2040201.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Once Jane and I unloaded our suitcases, we completed a one hour hike on the Twizel Walkway. This elevated our hunger, so we returned to the town center where we visited the Ministry of Works (restaurant), Jasmine Thai, and Top Hut; but all were extremely busy and required excessive wait times. We toyed with buying something at the supermarket, but eventually we returned to a wood fired pizza oven food truck across from our accommodations. It proved to be a great move, and we finally satisfied our burgeoning appetites. Being able to watch the Philadelphia Eagles become world champions surpassed my wildest expectations for February 5.

 

New Zealand Day 18 – 02/04/2018

New Zealand Day 18 02/04/2018 Photo Album

Sunday was a very active day for Jane and I in Dunedin, NZ. On Saturday we reserved mountain bikes from Dunedin iBikes, and Nick delivered them along with helmets on Saturday evening. He also suggested routes, so on Sunday morning we began to check them off. Our first ride took us east along the northeastern shoreline of Otago Bay. During this one hour ride we joined in the Masters Games, as a large group of race walkers shared our track.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-1-TTv-GMelo/WodM2ks71YI/AAAAAAABYB0/Gex6S4KjoAMsGBCqkvdiE7xC3YGMiSsuACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2030155.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523267027363040785?locked=true#6523267085718246786″ caption=”I Liked My Hired Bike” type=”image” alt=”P2030155.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Inct5GkJA5o/WodM7BG1O9I/AAAAAAABYB0/lBq826Sq0fg6Vie42MMY0jJ-B4T7w5blQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2030164.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523267027363040785?locked=true#6523267162062535634″ caption=”Cruise Control Now” type=”image” alt=”P2030164.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After we returned to the CBD (Central Business District) we headed northeast until we found Baldwin Street, allegedly the steepest street in the world. A crowd of people choked the base, and many groups accepted the challenge and ascended the six blocks of pure vertical. I wish I could announce that I completed the climb on my mountain bike, but I turned around at the location where the grade shifted dramatically and then returned to Jane for some photos. After surrendering to the hill we elected to swing back to the Euro 315 to remove some layers, as the 46 degree F temperature at the start quickly rose to the 50’s F.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-lDm52N2JTPc/WodM8hZKOQI/AAAAAAABYB0/mEqPbTCCQ0k2kOX4pGxSzk2hF-g0RPoBgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2030167.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523267027363040785?locked=true#6523267187909212418″ caption=”Teeth Sculpture at Our Turn” type=”image” alt=”P2030167.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The last leg of our cycling adventure was to power our way east on the Otago Peninsula. The initial couple of miles were a bit dicey, as we maneuvered through a mix of city streets and bike paths. We stopped a helpful cycling couple at one point and asked for confirmation that we were headed toward the Otago Peninsula. Not only did they assure us, but they also outlined the next two turns including a “left at the teeth”. Sure enough after another kilometer we encountered a series of eight sculpted teeth, and just as they suggested, we were on the Portobello Cycle Track heading northeast.

Unfortunately the off road trail ended halfway through our outbound trip, and the remainder of the ride was along the narrow shoulder of Portobello Road. We survived and returned to the Euro 315 by 12:30PM, and Nick stopped by at 2:15 to retrieve the bikes.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SPz98cDs6LY/WodM_CqT2VI/AAAAAAABYB0/zqDw0_rD414939jG0rwtFbZn2sYu4yWwgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2030174.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523267027363040785?locked=true#6523267231199254866″ caption=”Lighthouse Is Where the Royal Albatross Hang Out” type=”image” alt=”P2030174.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The Otago Peninsula ride peaked our curiosity, so we studied some maps and our guidebook after lunch. John and Brenda were scheduled to be picked up by a commercial tour service, so the rental minivan was available to us. We jumped in the Hyandai IMAX and completed the 45 minute drive to the tip of the Otago Peninsula. This was my first extended stint driving the IMAX while steering from the right side and driving in the left lane. It was certainly a challenging start, as Portbello Road was a two lane highway that twisted and curved endlessly along the contour of Otago Bay.

The Royal Albatross Centre was situated at the end of the road, but a $30 NZ charge for the guided tour dissuaded us from that option. Instead we took advantage of the plethora of information in the Royal Albatross Visitor Centre. We educated ourselves on the various species of albatrosses and shags (duck-like bird) and their life cycles and studied photos in case we were able to observe any of the large resident birds. We exited the visitor center and began our self-guided nature walk.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-SIew7R3Sdds/WodM_lpgHGI/AAAAAAABYB0/oGTLcflVn7kMm5HSSVi-8WozBTcHWsH5gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2030175.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523267027363040785?locked=true#6523267240591105122″ caption=”Looking North from the Viewing Platform” type=”image” alt=”P2030175.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The Pacific Ocean (east) side of the point featured three wooden viewing platforms. We stood on all of them and marveled at the powerful wind and surf in front of us. We now attempted to put our recently gained knowledge of the appearance of shags and albatrosses to use, and we peered intently into the sky north and south along the coastline. Much to our satisfaction we spotted six albatrosses, as they glided in the strong air currents along the ridge high above. In addition several shags flapped their wings and powered their way by our viewing platform. Jane carried the binoculars, and they were invaluable for zooming in on the majestic albatrosses.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-hrXuiBodtNM/WodNARbclHI/AAAAAAABYB0/u8eTLfPHX4oO5iuVWzbJvoZldV060zEnACCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2030177.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523267027363040785?locked=true#6523267252343313522″ caption=”At Least Seven Seals in This Photo. Three in the Water.” type=”image” alt=”P2030177.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Once we soaked in the bird watching spectacle, we crossed the parking lot and descended to Pilots Beach on the bay side of the point. Another viewing platform existed here for observing the arrival of the blue penguins, but we decided against waiting for the 6-8PM show. Instead we chuckled at the frolicking fur seals on the rocks to our right. In total eight chubby mammals occupied the rocky shoreline.Three glided about in the water, while the others lazily basked in the warm sunshine. I was amazed how clumsy these creatures were on land, yet they morphed into sleek water acrobats once they entered the ocean.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-zbsGoE6CKY4/WodNBxAq_qI/AAAAAAABYB0/sIUhmS3XpzkkgSmV0XTJBS96JTMjUY34gCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2030183.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523267027363040785?locked=true#6523267278000815778″ caption=”We Stopped at Wellers Rock. Who Knew?” type=”image” alt=”P2030183.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After the multiple wildlife shows we began our return drive along Otago Bay to Dunedin. After ten kilometers we noticed a sign for Wellers Rock. Since my last name is Weller, I could not overcome the desire to stop and investigate the origin of the name of this landmark. A rectangular plaque was embedded at the base of a large rounded rock next to the bay, and it stated, “1831 – 1931, THIS TABLET MARKS THE LANDING PLACE OF WELLER BROTHERS (WHALERS) WHO FOUNDED THE FIRST WHITE SETTLEMENT IN OTAKOU (OTAGO) IN 1831″. I eagerly snapped a photo, and I was shocked to learn that I had famous ancestors in New Zealand!

We continued on and returned to Dunedin. We changed into comfortable clothes for dinner and visited The Reef, a seafood restaurant four or five street numbers away from our hotel. Jane ordered a shellfish bowl, and I chose prawns. Oohs and ahs echoed about the dining room when my dinner arrived, with eight shrimp displaying heads and antennae. The large orange prawns were stacked on a metal skewer that dangled over my plate from an L-shaped hanger. It was a striking presentation. We savored our meals and reminisced about our wonderful day in Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-baeBbejUHno/WodNEzds-yI/AAAAAAABYB0/43f-MbbmON8ICXWCHCBS05s22575SwwawCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2030188.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523267027363040785?locked=true#6523267330199059234″ caption=”Complete with Beady Eyes, Legs and Antennae” type=”image” alt=”P2030188.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

 

 

New Zealand Day 17 – 02/03/2018

New Zealand Day 17 02/03/2018 Photo Album

Our itinerary required us to traverse southern New Zealand from Te Anau to Dunedin on Saturday. We crossed from the west coast to the east coast of the South Island, if one includes our two hour return from Milford Sound on Friday. The route provided unending views of paddocks (fields) populated by sheep, cows, deer, and beets. Deer are raised extensively in New Zealand as a source of domesticated meat, and venison is a standard item on most restaurant menus.

The weather turned quite chilly, and the high temperature in Dunedin peaked in the mid-50’s. It was a radical change from the heat wave we experienced during the middle week of our roadtrip. We found our lodging at Euro 315 in the center of Dunedin, and then Jane and I strolled down George Street to a food court in a mall, where we split and inhaled a lamb souvlaki. We returned to the hotel by 2PM to check in, and then we surveyed the city map and embarked on a two hour walking tour.

First we searched for a bike hire business called Bike Otago, but we were unable to locate it and concluded the shop moved. Next we sought the New Zealand Shop on the Octagon, and Jane purchased a gift for our cleaning person. The third stop was the Cadbury World chocolate factory on Cumberland, but we declined the tour and instead purchased a Cadbury Caramello bar.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-FUT8Pa5HaLo/WocnDVDrTdI/AAAAAAABX8o/V0MFFhjTRfgE5S1hdfXSpNY_fzGkYu8owCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2020144.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523225498264709201?locked=true#6523225523415109074″ caption=”Jane Bought a Caramello” type=”image” alt=”P2020144.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

A bit of backtracking took us to Stuart Street, and then we intersected with the historical Dunedin railway station. It was a fine piece of architecture surrounded by manicured landscaping. We browsed the station a bit, and then we returned to the Octagon via Stuart Street, and there we selected the Thistle as our preferred establishment for happy hour. Jane sipped a glass of wine, while I sipped a hot cup of tea in keeping with my ongoing cold. From here we returned to the Euro 315, and we reserved bicycles for a half day of touring on Sunday via a phone call using our Skinny mobile service.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Gf_vgtdGWEQ/WocnDwDrT6I/AAAAAAABX8o/RqP85cCj4_8yi07mCGz_CLUZGtOaI07NQCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2020145.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6523225498264709201?locked=true#6523225530662866850″ caption=”The Landmark Railway Station in Dunedin” type=”image” alt=”P2020145.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

During our walk we identified a Japanese restaurant called Tokyo Garden that was advertising a pork ramen special, so this became our destination for an evening meal. Salmon and chicken sushi preceded our ramen bowls, and we were both quite pleased with our meal. After dinner we made sure to return to the Euro 315 before Nick of Dunedin iBikes dropped off two bicycles and helmets for our Sunday ride. We concluded our travel day with a visit to the New World Market, where we bought a few breakfast items.

New Zealand Day 16 – 02/02/2018

New Zealand Day 16 02/02/2018 Photo Album

After a day that featured extended drenching rain on Thursday, Jane and I reveled in the gorgeous weather that arrived on Friday. The storm moved on, the skies cleared, and cooler temperatures developed, as we completed the two hour drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound. We began our journey at 7:00AM, and this early departure enabled us to arrive at Milford Sound in time to snag a parking space in the closest lot to the terminal. This meant no shuttle was required, and we had fairly easy access to the minivan in case we forgot something.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-d7326XQl9_U/WoX6BZivPLI/AAAAAAABX6o/oiKaicHpbqMxIMwuwTbV9YxrXueWxMZowCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2010087.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522894444456147537?locked=true#6522894537259433138″ caption=”Looking Back as the Lady Bowen Pulls Away” type=”image” alt=”P2010087.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

We finished the short ten minute walk to the tour cruise terminal building and registered for our 10:30 tour and kayak adventure. The young lady behind the counter informed us that we were eligible to grab a 9:45AM departure, so we jumped at the option. Jane and I boarded the Lady Bowen and snagged prime spots on the lower bow of the boat, and we were pleased to learn that the wind was behind us on the outbound leg.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-m-lV9iEdWqI/WoX6CuipUfI/AAAAAAABX6o/5EWCVv4VgpsQgJr_I5e1XnQOv33ViWG6QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2010091.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522894444456147537?locked=true#6522894560076059122″ caption=”Bowen Falls on Our Right” type=”image” alt=”P2010091.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

We passed a ridiculous number of waterfalls, and our guide explained that the heavy rain on Thursday boosted the volume of water cascading down the steep fiord walls. Jeremy added that Milford Sound is one of the wettest places on earth. As we approached one of the more voluminous falls along the left side of the fiord, Jeremy instructed one of the galley mates to bring two racks of glasses to the front. The young man dutifully responded and placed the racks on the smooth flat area on top of the wall on the bow, and then the pilot of the boat taxied beneath the waterfalls to fill the empty cups. Earlier Jeremy informed our group that the water was so pure, that one could safely drink it, and he was about to make his point.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-lFg8RixL2g0/WoX6HotAcbI/AAAAAAABX6c/RIXpy5wVbMMorKBGVIJ46HiFUW0RVwn4QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2010103.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522894444456147537?locked=true#6522894644408250802″ caption=”Approaching Another Falls for a Close Look” type=”image” alt=”P2010103.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

As if this were not enough excitement, my dear wife, Jane, remained stationary, as she guarded the glasses with her life, and then the ice cold glacial melt pummeled her from above. Even the guide was astonished by her act of bravery. I remained on the front deck long enough to snap a photo and video clip, and even this brief exposure caused my fleece and shoes to get wet, before I scurried into the cabin. Jane on the other hand toughed it out and drenched two layers of clothing in the process. Fortunately she had the presence of mind to stuff her phone beneath the wet outer layers.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-adX5LBJOPhw/WoX6IkxDGAI/AAAAAAABX6c/GYCz-XCUVEAusNiKyQl8psRSbObL5r5uwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2010105.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522894444456147537?locked=true#6522894660531329026″ caption=”Jane Next to the Racks of Glasses” type=”image” alt=”P2010105.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-tEDFUI9By6c/WoX6HJno2dI/AAAAAAABX6c/Z3i7IzH-U6YkTpZwSek874L71K7raiI-QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2010102.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522894444456147537?locked=true#6522894636064233938″ caption=”A Larger Colony of Seals” type=”image” alt=”P2010102.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

We continued on our way and viewed several colonies of fur seals and numerous gulls of varying sizes. When we reached the mouth of Milford Sound, we reversed our course and made our way to the Underwater Discovery Center. Here the kayakers were outfitted with life jackets and rain pants, and Jane and I climbed into our single crafts. The guide lowered the platform, until we were floating in the ocean, and like a cluster of bumper cars we managed to exit the covered shed and headed to the sound.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-lHhVrDrKDTM/WoX6NgfeaSI/AAAAAAABX6c/k0q_An4lj844hlddL-l9jUzaATgOJT0gwCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2010116.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522894444456147537?locked=true#6522894745283225890″ caption=”A Pro” type=”image” alt=”P2010116.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-b8RvFRcqtkw/WoX6QyNnPyI/AAAAAAABX6c/uCvebFBckDw7_7gKlmyDx22olewbKrHggCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2010125.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522894444456147537?locked=true#6522894801579753250″ caption=”Fighting the Current” type=”image” alt=”P2010125.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

We paddled into the mouth of the Harrison River and listened to the guides relate Maori legends. As this transpired, we drifted over a patch of aquatic grass, and we instantly became a tasty buffet for the resident sand flies. The stories finally ended, and Jane and I bolted up the river against the swift current. I made it two-thirds of the way toward the top of the inlet before every stroke merely served to offset the velocity of the current, and I was paddling in place. We turned around and glided back with the aid of the current, and then we completed a large circle and arrived back at the launch shed.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-uH2yIW7JYPE/WoX6UiNN9UI/AAAAAAABX6c/esTbw1tZ2Kg9eQnD8zmPxRlpitBTWE_vgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2010132.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522894444456147537?locked=true#6522894866002605378″ caption=”Jane in Relaxation Mode…Finally” type=”image” alt=”P2010132.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After we returned our gear and enjoyed a brief rest, we descended to the Deep Water Emergence. Because a layer of tannin colored fresh water blankets the lower layer of ocean water, creatures that normally only live in the dark depths of the ocean occupy Milford Sound. The Deep Water Emergence experience enabled us to view a variety of life from the deep. This viewing time concluded the tour, and we boarded the small cruise ship and returned to the terminal building.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-c4V_inJug10/WoX6WP8kg9I/AAAAAAABX6c/HIIsrl7_YmUpO1oj7DwvbM_C_OL6eOIRgCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P2010136.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522894444456147537?locked=true#6522894895460680658″ caption=”The Stream That Created the Chasm” type=”image” alt=”P2010136.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

On the return drive to Te Anau Brenda, John, Jane and I stopped once to complete a short hike to The Chasm, and at a few additional overlooks to snap photos. When we returned to Te Anau, Jane and I battled the wind and walked downtown to The Ranch, where we both enjoyed lamb shank dinners. Yum.

New Zealand Day 15 – 02/01/2018

New Zealand Day 15 02/01/2018 Photo Album

Thursday was once again a travel day, and we spent most of the morning driving from Glenorchy to Te Anau. Steady blowing and drenching rain persisted during our entire trip, and it continued throughout the afternoon in Te Anau.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-h6nPnjMWd4k/WoXBOnXYt0I/AAAAAAABXzI/qR5vilv5bukQSbTjW8O8UIImQTpK2t93QCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P1310076.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522832057044704689?locked=true#6522832092145432386″ caption=”Fiordland Film Got Us Excited” type=”image” alt=”P1310076.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

It was an ideal day to rest and catch up on some chores. Jane and I finished two loads of laundry, and then I enjoyed a brief nap, while she walked downtown in the rain. While on her stroll she stopped at the Southern Discoveries office, and she made inquiries regarding proper outdoor wear for our boat cruise and kayaking adventure. The folks at Southern Discoveries recommended a thirty minute film on Fiordland National Park; so Jane, Brenda, John and I caught the 6PM showing. The cinematography and aerial shots were breathtaking, and we all eagerly anticipated our boat tour on Friday.

[peg-image src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-avlsKXZY7Jg/WoXBOF5_UUI/AAAAAAABXzI/TueOhVzSBvshyUE2FHm8U7a8YXleTc7ngCCoYBhgL/s144-o/P1310075.JPG” href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/108128655430094950653/6522832057044704689?locked=true#6522832083163763010″ caption=”Excellent Pizza” type=”image” alt=”P1310075.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

After the film we walked a few blocks to Ristorante Pizzeria Paradiso, where I was pleased to discover vegan non-dairy cheese was available for my pizza. It was a small thing, but much appreciated nonetheless.